A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a specific site (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that has been nominated and confirmed for inclusion on the list maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 State Parties (countries) which are elected by the General Assembly of States Parties for a fixed term. (This is similar to the United Nations Security Council.)
Each World Heritage Site is the property of the country on whose territory the site is located, but it is considered in the interest of the international community to preserve each site for future generations of humanity. The protection and conservation of these sites are a concern of all the World Heritage countries.
UNESCO then initiated, with the International Council on Monuments and Sites, a draft convention to protect the common cultural heritage of humanity.
Convention and background
The United States initiated the idea of combining cultural conservation with nature conservation. A White House conference in 1965 called for a World Heritage Trust to preserve "the world's superb natural and scenic areas and historic sites for the present and the future of the entire world citizenry." The International Union for Conservation of Nature developed similar proposals in 1968, and they were presented in 1972 to the United Nations conference on Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden.
* I. "to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius";
* II. "to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design";
* III. "to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared";
* IV. "to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history";
* V. "to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change";
* VI. "to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria)";
* VII. "to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance";
* VIII. "to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features";
* IX. "to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals";
* X. "to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-site conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation."
14% 117 3 80 34 Latin America & Caribbean 49% 416 7 358 51 Europe & North America 21% 182 11 126 45 Asia-Pacific 7% 62 1 58 3 Arab States and Israel 9% 74 3 38 33 Africa % Total Mixed Cutural Natural Zone